With the Bears, Bills, Chargers, Eagles and Jaguars beginning OTAs (organized team practice activity) on Monday, here is a primer on what teams can and can’t do as spelled out by the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners. Here are some of the major points:
OTAs are voluntary workouts. On-field coaching instruction is allowed, but live contact is prohibited. Per the CBA, prohibited contact includes “blocking, tackling, pass rushing [and] bump-and-run” situations. Players can wear helmets, elbow pads and knee pads, but OTAs are not to be fully padded practices.
Some offense vs. defense team drills are allowed during OTAs; for instance, 11-on-11 drills can be conducted. Some special teams work is also allowed. However, no one-on-one workouts can occur, such as a receiver competing against a cornerback.
During OTAs, players are limited to two hours of on-field practice time and no more than six hours of total work in a given day.
As with all on-field organized offseason workouts, clubs are required to record OTAs and keep the recordings on file until early October (30 days after the start of the regular season). The NFLPA has the right to observe a limited number of offseason workouts in-person and can request practice video from a club if a complaint is filed.
If a workout violation is alleged, the NFL and NFLPA will first work toward a solution; if they cannot come to an agreement, an independent arbitrator will take up the matter and make a ruling.
According to the CBA, a team and its head coach “are jointly responsible for any conduct in violation” of offseason workout rules, and fines can be levied by Commissioner Roger Goodell if necessary. For a first upheld violation, head coach can be fined up to $100,000, with a club fined as much as $250,000. However, the commissioner can wave fines or impose smaller penalties depending upon the nature of the violation.
In the event of a workout rules breach, a team will lose its “next scheduled week of OTAs,” per the CBA. A second workout violation in the same league year will cost a club a fourth-round pick in the next draft as well as another week of OTAs.
Finally, here is a schedule of workouts for all 32 teams.